HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The state of Alabama now has another tool to help stop drunken driving.
Taking effect this month, a revised law provides for people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol to install ignition interlock devices that prevent their vehicles from starting if they have a blood-alcohol content of .02 or more. In some cases, the interlock devices are mandatory. In others, drivers can request devices in exchange for reduced terms of driver’s license suspensions.
The Alabama legislature passed an interlock law in 2011 and the program was supposed to start in 2012. Instead, it was delayed until now.
The law makes mandatory an interlock device for DUI defendants with a previous DUI within the preceding five years. Repeat offenders must pay to have the device installed after they finish a period of a suspended driver’s license.
The device also is mandatory for first-time offenders who meet any of the following conditions:
- A BAC of .15 or greater.
- A driver who refuses to take a breath test.
- A driver with a passenger younger than 14.
- The driver who caused an injury to anyone other than himself or herself.
The basic term is six months but can be extended for violations, and subsequent offenses carry longer terms.
DUI defendants who are not required to install the device can ask a judge for one in order to delay the driver’s license suspension. In those cases, the Alabama Department of Public Safety issues a special driver’s license designating that the operators must have interlock devices. If a law enforcement officer pulls such a driver over – even for a non-DUI offense – he can issue a citation if the driver does not have an interlock.